New version of Sailrocket aims to break sailing speed world record

The revolutionary Sailrocket has undergone design changes that its builders say will give the unusual sailing craft the opportunity to make greater speed as it aims to break the outright world speed-sailing record.

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The revolutionary Sailrocket has undergone design changes that its builders say will give the unusual sailing craft the opportunity to make greater speed as it aims to break the outright world speed-sailing record. The mark, a measure of the average speed of an unpowered watercraft between two points set 500m/1,625 ft apart, currently stands at 55.65 knots (around 64 mph). At HPC’s press time, the Sailrocket 2 was being prepared for shipping to Walvis Bay, Namibia, where an earlier attempt took place in April.

“This project is a strong representation of the willingness to innovate and create,” says Paul Larsen, Sailrocket’s project leader and pilot, pointing out, “Of course, there are risks involved. That’s the challenge.”

The revised craft — the original was described in HPC’s January 2009 issue (short.compositesworld.com/zRWoPW48) — was launched March 8 at an empty weight of only 275 kg/605 lb. Fabricated with materials from SP-High Modulus, the marine business of Gurit (Isle of Wight, U.K.), the main structure is an autoclave-cured sandwich construction, comprising carbon fiber/epoxy prepreg skins over an aramid honeycomb core. Prepregs included Gurit’s Ampreg 22, SE84LV and SE70 and some dry reinforcements. Its wing-like sail is built around a CompoTech (Sušice, Czech Republic) carbon tube that acts as a spar. The wingskins are a polyester heat shrink film supplied by HIFI Films (Stevenage, U.K.). According to Larsen, the entire boat, including rigging, has the equivalent aerodynamic drag of a 74 cm/30-inch diameter sphere, and its revised design enables the pilot to maneuver the craft in much rougher water than the first version could handle.